June 1998, a number of candidates for the Inhibitors have been brought in from across the globe to a specially designed facility to train them. Primarily funded and stocked by RajTEK; The Cell also used staffing from the United Nations, Acel-Corp, and even Gunma Inc.*
*Check out Blessed Inversion Prologue for more details on the Inhibitors founding
Based in Sweden, The Cell was made outside of Tännforsen. Some have opposed it picking such a spot and ruining the natural beauty of the area. Their concerns were promptly dashed when they saw how the structure was built. Using the geokinetic and magnetokinetic members of RajTEK, they were able to create an entirely natural building. Using the ambient nature in the area to design a non-invasive structure that stays a few stories both above and below ground.
Sasha Boone was the director of the Inhibitors and the woman in charge of The Cell. A heavyset woman, she wore a formal suit and exuded confidence wherever she went. She oversaw the entire construction process and was currently meeting with the head of RajTEK, Raja Eishner. Raja wore a simple blue polo shirt, white striped shorts, and black sneakers. That added with his side-swept hair that was colored a mix of teal, purple, pink and gold and a brown goatee he looked more like an intern than a CEO. Standing by him was a somewhat muscular man with arms crossed. His short dark ginger hair was somewhat unkempt and his green eyes scanned whatever they came across. He wore a simple navy blue short-sleeved RajTEK security uniform.
“Thank you for coming personally Mr. Eishner.” Sasha says formally shaking his hand.
“Oh, no problem. Wanted to make sure everything was good to go. You wouldn’t believe how many investors were against this.”
“People tend to second-guess when they’re about to make history.”
“Seriously, we’re doing great things at RajTEK and I plan on keeping it that way.” Raja replied adjusting his glasses.
“Would you like me to show you around the facility?” she inquires.
“Nah, I already know everything is up to code. Technopathy remember? My main man is here for the tour though.” he says with a smile putting his hand on the security guards shoulder. “This is my good friend and head of security at RajTEK, Steven Kessler. I brought him to help oversee and train the newbies. For a while anyway.”
“Good to have you onboard Mr. Kessler.” Sasha gave Steven a firm handshake. She could tell from how rough his skin felt he wasn’t just for show. The small scars hidden under his unshaven face didn’t escape her notice either. She may not have powers but she’s very good at her job.
“Sure you’ll be fine without me Raja?” Steven speaks for the first time. His voice hoarse and deep like someone from an old noir film. Combined with his Irish accent made it somewhat difficult to understand him.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. What’s the worst that could happen? All hell breaks loose?” Raja jokes.
“Given your luck when left with the doctor I’d say that’s the best case scenario.”
“Ahahaha fuck you.”
“Back at you boss.”
“Take care.” With a final wave, Raja turns and leaves back to his personal helicopter.
“This way please.” Sasha says before beginning her tour with Steven. She thought about the man who was now part of her staff and the CEO she just met. Besides the age and overt personality difference, they seemed to get along. But how much of it was just him listening to the boss so he didn’t lose his job? She needed more information. She didn’t care if he liked her. But knowing his relationship with Raja would gauge the best way she could work with him. “So Mr. Kessler, tell me a little bit about yourself.” she asks taking the initiative. This way she could see what he was willing to share himself without outright prying.
“Mr. Eishner said it already. I’m the head of security at RajTEK. He handpicked me to come train your Inversions since I have so much experience dealing with them directly.” Stevens response was straightforward.
“You’ve dealt with them a lot in the past?” Sasha tries to dig deeper.
“Corporate espionage is a popular field. You don’t get where RajTEK has without pissing a lot of people off. He’s a good kid and means well but I’m here to deal with the stuff he won’t. In this case, getting this little army off the ground.” his words were sharp and cold. Whether he said it aloud or not, Steven wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of the Inhibitors.
“Who said anything about this being an army?” Sasha couldn’t help but notice his cynicism.
“A new species is discovered and the first thing the UN does is start a group to catch it’s less than desirable members? I’m betting your boss picked members from across the globe with powers either convenient for whatever they want or ones you don’t want someone else to have. Next step is deploying them and making new groups as a private police force.”
Sasha stops walking and leers at Steven. “We’re a neutral group, in a neutral country, and we’re trying to help the world. The Inversions aren’t all going to be good guys and let’s face it. Regular cops won’t be able to deal with them. You do your job training this team, make it a success, and yes we will get more teams. Yes, we will place them around the globe. But no, they won’t be a private police force. We’re just trying to handle the crimes no one else can.”
“Good to know you focus on the crimes and not the innocent ones who don’t know what they’re doing.” Steven scoffs spitefully. “Just get me to the trainees and let’s get this on with.
The atmosphere was tense and there was no need to keep talking. She skipped the grand tour and got down to business. Taking the elevator one level down they walk through the halls to the training area. A large state of the art gym with a variety of reforming equipment. Not only that, the building was filled to the brim with receivers that would translate incoming audio. The joy of having gear made by technopaths. The floor and walls shined silver and the furthest walls had windows to see the connecting lake. A group of 10 people stood anxiously as the pair approached.
“Hello team, this is Kessler and he’ll be your trainer. He’ll teach you how to use your powers and how to work as a team. Don’t get too used to him though, by the end of this one of you will be the leader and he’ll be going back home.” Sasha says firmly.
“Yes mam.” they reply.
“I’ll be watching you.” Sasha warns ominously before departing.
“Okay, let’s begin.” Steven points at a spiky brown haired man with glasses. “Name, country of origin, and power.”
“Um, my name is Rory Tymchyshyn. I’m from Canada and I can create energy constructs.” his reply was soft spoken. Not out of fear or anxiousness but simply because he felt no need to do otherwise.
“Energy Constructs huh? Show me.”
“Oh, okay.” Rory takes a moment and begins to form green hard light cubes in the air.
“Simple, now show me something more complex. You worked at an electronics store before this right? Make something from there.” Steven orders. He needed to see the max potential of these people so he knew what he was working with. He’s not disappointed. Rory does as he’s ordered and after a minute he creates a television construct. Full of wires and all the parts needed to make it function, a true feat of skill. But with a single punch, Steven shatters it.
“What was that for?!” Rory asks in shock.
“Establishing a point. You showed you can make both simple and extremely complex constructs. Know that in a fight, the less complex and smaller it is the stronger it’ll be. Also, you don’t want to waste time making the damn thing.”
Steven didn’t need to go through this elaborate process but it was his job. He already read all their files and knew exactly who they were and what they think they’re capable of. Rory Tymchyshyn was the manager of an electronics store run by Acel-Corp. The day his powers emerged was the day he became a circus attraction for the store. Come see the manager who can literally show you the inside of your VCR player without having to tear it apart. It was good for business…for the most part. Others felt differently and now he’s here as a rep for Acel-Corp. They felt he’d make an ideal leader for the team. It’d be up to Steven to find out if they’re right.
“We’ll work on getting you to a good middle ground. Your codename will be Construct.” Steve pauses briefly then looks at a Brazilian woman wearing an elegant dress. Their eyes meet and he feels a slight tingling sensation in the back of his head. “Step 1 when being a psychic is knowing who you can and can’t try to read the minds of.”
“How did you-” the woman begins before getting interrupted
“-Name, country of origin, and power.”
“Fabiana Pereira, I’m a psychic from South America.”
“No shit, the specifics. What type of psychic are you?” If one didn’t know better you’d think he took her trying to read his mind to heart.
“Fine.” she sighs while rolling her eyes and crossing her arms. “Clairvoyance, psychokinesis, mental blasts, and my personal favorite mind control.”
“Impressive, now can you guess how I could tell you were trying to read my mind?” Steven asks.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me shortly.”
“Smart girl. You’re sloppy. Anyone with training to know when someone is trying a psychic attack will find you out in seconds. Then half your arsenal is gone.”
Fabiana Pereira grew up in the Favelas of Brazil and had a long and hard life. The day her powers manifested was the day her life changed. Able to both see the future and mind control she was able to win a small fortune by predicting the outcome of bets…That is when she wasn’t ensuring they went in her favor in the first place. When word got out about the plan to create the Inhibitors, she jumped at the opportunity. For all the riches she had amassed it was above all else, an all too easy and boring venture…
“Your codename will be Mentalist. Next up is you.” Steven focuses his attention on one of the two Asian women present. Specifically the one with green eyes and straight black hair that was parted on the left side.
“Wei Jin, China, I have elemental transmogrification.” she says calmly.
“Welcome aboard Nature, moving on…”
Wei Jin was one of the members who personally peaked Stevens interest. Her powers let her take on the physical form and traits of any element she could think of. Bursting into flames and soaring through the sky, becoming air and slipping through vents, or even becoming one with the ocean. Whatever she became she was also granted limited control of. With it, she rather publically began to clean the pollution in China. Her file said she refused to join the Inhibitors and felt she could do more good in China rather than globetrotting. After meeting with Fabiana she had a sudden change of heart. But she wasn’t the only one…
“You’re up little mouse.” Steven says pointing at a meek girl with a ponytail.
“Um, me? Well…um…Stephanie Balboa…I’m from Australia and I have super speed…” she answers lowly.
“Hmm…” Steven remained silent and simply looked at her. He could see the anxiety and fear in her confirming a suspicion he had. In the file he received, Stephanie was found constantly racing across Australia training herself. She had no plans for her powers outside of having fun and exploring her homeland. But like Wei, after talking with Fabiana she decided to join the Inhibitors. “You don’t need to be so scared Steph. We’re all friends here.” Stevens words were surprisingly comforting and his expression softened ever so slightly. “Also, your codename is Mach. While I’m at it…” Steven walks over and brings his attention to the youngest member present no older than 16. The left side of her head was smooth white hair that went down to her shoulders. The right side was unkempt black. Her left arm was partially turned into pure light while her right into darkness. But her eyes were the most striking. They were entirely white sans surging black lines pulsing from where her pupils would be. Like Stephanie, she looked very unsure of herself and uncomfortable. “Mind telling me about yourself?” She nods and begins.
“My name is Karen DeGroat sir. I was born and raised in the United States. Well…I was in a coma after a car accident. Woke up with my powers and now I’m here. They said I had illumination, photokinesis, and umbrakinesis.” her words were sincere but her voice was unearthly. It echoed and reverberated a deep booming tone overlapping a soft gentle one. As if there were two people inside her one body.
“Thank you, your codename is Chaos.”
“And why the hell is my name Chaos?” she shoots at him suddenly. her voice now more deep and menacing.
“I’m not the one who picks the codenames I’m just telling you what they are.” he responds calmly.
“O-oh…I’m sorry…” she apologizes with her voice returning to a more or less normal pitch.
“Next is…” Steven begins only for a dark-skinned woman to step forward with a gleeful smile. “I guess the volunteer.”
“Raina Dahmani, I am from Africa and I can perform thermokinesis. I can control, generate, and absorb thermal energy or molecular movement. Right now I can only really fly with it but I’m excited to begin training.” she says cheerfully with a salute before stepping back in line.
“Good to see someone is excited about this. Under my training, you might be able to use pyro and cryokinesis. Your codename is Degree. Anyone else want to volunteer?” Steven asks after a brief silence another person steps forward.
“Naegi Jun, Japan, I have clairvoyance and power sensing.”
“A useful powerset. What makes your clairvoyance different from Fabiana’s?”
“Mine is more in the short term. I can use it to make sure I don’t make small mistakes and win any fight I participate in.” she replies proudly.
“I heard you aced school and were the National Judo champ. So how much of that was done without cheating?”
“What?!” she responds insulted.
“How much did you do without looking at the future for the answers?” he gets no response but he can see the anger on her face. “Don’t worry, you can try and fight me after we finish off the roll call Reflex. We have the two special guests.” Steven signals to a short muscular woman with patches of rocks embedded in her skin. “Kathy Preston, codename Granite, was one of the only two people here planned to be a member of the Inhibitors from the very beginning. She used her geokinesis and seismic powers to help build the building we’re standing in. The tall one who looks like she’ll break you in two is Katerina Sonter, codenamed Sleuth. She’s our Russian rep and is the child of one of the people responsible for coming up with the Inhibitors in the first place. Pheromone manipulation, both aura and x-ray visions, and weapon mastery are her skills. Now that that’s out the way Jun, you mind showing off your powers here and now against me?”
“Very well then.” she says without hesitation and steps towards Steven in her Judo stance. Steven remains with his arms at his sides.
“Attack me whenever you’re ready.”
Jun hesitates for a moment and waits. Given the macho style Steven was giving off, he should be leading the offensive and she sees him attacking first in the future yet he doesn’t move. Just a miscalculation she thought, nothing worth worrying about. She steps forward to try and grab Steven but all she grabs is air. Each time she tries he effortlessly steps to the side or moves out of range. If grabs won’t work then strikes will have to do. They all result in the same, Steven effortlessly dodges each blow and lets frustration set in. She can sense that he has a power of some kind but what? Reflexes? Super speed? Is he a clairvoyant too? Or did he just know enough about her to know any move she’d make? For a moment she’s lost in thought. The next moment she’s flung over Stevens’ shoulder and onto the ground.
“Lessons over kids, that’s how you take down a clairvoyant.” he says casually but only succeeds in confusing the group.
“Wait what?” Rory asks.
“Information is the key to winning any fight. Not just how strong you are. Some of you might have guessed but I did the introductions for two reasons. The first is so you’d all get to know what the others can do while testing out the buildings integrated translator. The second is to see what you’d say about yourselves. I already have files but I wanted to see if any of you were going to hide details. You all get points for not lying. I knew enough about all of you before meeting you to gauge what I’d need to do to train or fight you. The best way to beat a clairvoyant is to either be random and unpredictable or do what I did. Deprive them of any information about yourself. The future always changes and the person seeing the future will go based on the information they know. Like an elaborate human computer. The less they know about you the better off you’ll be. Expectations vs reality and all that.”
“So what was your power then?” Jun asks.
“That’s my secret. For now, you guys enjoy chatting. Tomorrow we begin training. But now, I think it’s time Granite gave you guys the tour.”
“What about you Mr. Kessler?” Kathy asks.
“I’ll be around. Don’t gotta worry about me.”
“Okay, well then follow me team.” she smiles and walks the group out of the room. “The basement has the training room like you saw and down the end of the corridor behind the huge steel doors is the generator room. It helps power The Cell and gets water throughout the place. But if you head in the opposite direction you get the recreation room.”
Kathy opens the door to the recreation room and everyone stares in awe. The recreation room was larger than the training room. Television, video games, a pool table, a swimming pool, hot tub, more normalized exercise equipment, and of course places to sit. Unlike the rest of the building, it had a welcoming atmosphere. The walls were painted to emulate a wooden wall, the floor had several colorful carpets, and the couch had beautiful throw pillows. Several members of the staff were present taking full advantage of the facilities.
“My mansion was better.” Fabiana snarks.
“Anything else you wanna show off about princess?!” Karen snarls.
“It was a joke.” she defends fearfully at the sight of Karens growing dark aura.
“The recreation room is open for anyone and everyone who works or lives in The Cell. Main rules are really just to clean up after yourself. The rooms for everyone so it’s the only one that isn’t especially maintained by the janitors.”
“Why not? If I can ask a question that is…” Stephanie meekly asks.
“We thought it’d be better if we had the rule. It’s a fun room for everyone so we should all have a part in cleaning it. Bad enough the janitors might have…interesting…messes to clean up.”
“What types of messes?” Fabiana asks concerned.
“Well…how do I put this…Taco night ends poorly when you have superpowers.” All but a chuckling Raina cringe at the mental imagery.
“You remember your rooms when you came in right? You get free roam of all The Cell when you’re off except a few restricted areas. I suggest you make the most of it. Kessler can be on the drill sergeant side sometimes.”
“Do you know what his powers are?” Jun inquires.
“Hmm…” Kathy thinks about the few times she met Steven when Raja was helping set the groundwork for the Cell but couldn’t recall a single moment of him using any power. “I’m not sure if he has one honestly. If he does he’s worked hard to keep it a secret.” her response seemed to spark greater curiosity in Jun.
The next day was their first official day of training. They woke up before the sun rose begrudgingly and assembled before Steven. They were outfitted with matching uniforms. Each made by RajTEK and emulated the design of the NATO uniforms. By default, the uniform was a stark white with subtle hints of camouflage. But based on the region they went to, the camouflage patterns would adjust so they could effectively act amongst local forces if needed. Steven, however, remained in his personal RajTEK security uniform.
“Welcome to your first-day red shirts. For training, I’m going to set some ground rules. The first rule, you follow my orders. If you don’t then don’t expect to make much progress. Second rule, don’t get emotional unless I tell you too. Your powers are controlled by them. You let your emotions control you and we won’t know what you’re liable to do or not do. Third rule, know your limits. Only thing worse than getting emotional is not knowing when to call it quits. Overextending can be a death sentence. Fourth rule, no quitters allowed. You came here for a reason now see it through. Fifth rule, use your codenames. In the field that’s what you’ll be using. Get used to it now and save yourself some trouble. Final rule, no fighting unless I say so. You can guess why. Questions? No? Good.”